The Other Olympics

The annual battle royal of local lifeguards is more than a contest of strength, speed and endurance. It’s a tradition that celebrates a supreme responsibility—saving lives.


Published:

Photograph by Keith Mosher, www.kamproductions.comAs competitors dive headlong into the surf for the balmy July night’s first event, Rehoboth Beach Patrol captain Kent Buckson can only sit in the sand and wait. He watches as his team falls behind the Sea Colony outfit, the early leader, after the evening’s first challenge—the half-mile swim—but a pep talk can wait.
The captain has more work to do.
“It’s a crazy day for me, but everybody else is having a blast,” he says.
For Buckson, the craziness began almost as soon as he headed past Dolle’s and Grotto Pizza on his way to beach patrol headquarters that morning.
Preparation for the Rehoboth Beach Patrol Lifeguard Olympics, held each July, lasted through the day, as guards hauled flags, buoys, landlines, rope and even extension cords to the 50-meter stretch of beach in front of headquarters.
At 4 p.m., more than two hours before its scheduled start, the event was already luring crowds. Around 5, competitors arrive from local beaches, including Rehoboth, which has won of 12 of the past 14 events, 2005 champions Ocean City, Maryland, 2004 champs Sea Colony, Dewey Beach, Middlesex and Bethany.
As they arrive, they immediately start preparing mentally for events such as a half-mile run, paddleboard rescue, Ironman medley and beach flags, which is like a sandy version of musical chairs. As the throng of competitors doubles in number, the crowd of spectators also continues to expand.
Though a contest and a spectacle, the olympics celebrates all lifeguards' reason for being: keeping the public safe.
Former RBP captain Jate Walsh would know a thing or two about that. He joined the beach patrol right before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon in 1969. Since he joined, the patrol has nearly doubled in size, from about 25 guards to nearly 50.
For those in charge, the competition is another serving on top of an already full platter. But for the contestants, the contest is the highlight of the summer.
“It gives us a reason to get together and train,” says lifeguard Jeff Kilner of Middlesex Beach. “This is the big one.”
Training for the competition takes a different approach than regular lifeguard drilling, says Middlesex guard Tyler Hastings; most of the contest scenarios are seen rarely in everyday work. “We train specifically for the competitions,” Hastings says.
But by staying in shape for the olympics, the guards stay in shape for routine situations, Walsh says.
“All of the beach patrols train hard, but when you’re out there, it’s a matter of reacting,” Walsh says. “You can go through two or three straight weeks of calm water, then one day it all blows up, and you’re in the water every 10 minutes. That’s why you need to be in shape at all times.”
This competition is the second big one of the season for Rehoboth Beach. It follows the Mid-Atlantic regional for the United States Lifesaving Association Championship.
“It’s a fun way to advertise what we do and it keeps lifeguards motivated and on top of their game,” Buckson says.
Since Buckson took over the captain’s duties—hiring of new guards, maintaining and updating equipment, overseeing training and more—there have been several improvements to the patrol, Walsh says.
Walsh knew his successor was special in 1987, when Buckson won the RBP Rookie of the Year award. Then there was the time Buckson paddled a kayak from Cape May, New Jersey, to Rehoboth Beach. So it came as no surprise when he became a national champion a couple years ago in the landline, a four-person event where a member with a lifeline swims to a teammate 120 meters offshore, then the other two pull the duo to shore.
For the national competitions, hosted by the USLA every summer, 10-person teams represent counties, not individual beach patrols. So over the years Buckson has become friendly with guards around Sussex. Though several patrols compete on the county team, it is hard to overlook the importance of the Rehoboth squad.
Founded by Benjamin Shaw as a two-man operation in 1921, the RBP has blossomed to 55 guards and equipment has improved, making it easier and safer to cover the mile-long stretch of shoreline.
“When I started (in 1969) all we had were bicycles,” Walsh says. “Then we got a moped, and we thought that was great. A few years ago we got an ATV, and now we have this Gator, which is like an all-terrain vehicle, except it has a hold on the back where you can put stretchers. It’s great in the sand, and it just makes rescuing people even safer.”
The growth of the patrol has also been reflected by the lifeguard olympics, which were first held in 1977 to commemorate the country’s bicentennial. The competition followed basic USLA guidelines. That changed in 1987, when four guards from Assateague Island, Virginia, showed up—then walked away with the trophy.
“They had this one guy that could swim like a fish, so they won every event that had swimming,” Walsh says. “So we added the tug-of-war to give other teams a chance.”
A few years ago organizers tried to remove the tug-of-war to stay in line with USLA rules, but the local guards fought it. “Besides, the fans really like to watch,” Walsh says.
So as spectators gathered around for the tug—the last of 11 events—Rehoboth was holding onto first place with a mere two-point cushion over Sea Colony and Ocean City.
Despite the roar of the crowd, Rehoboth drops out of the double-elimination tug early. It can only hope that its slim lead will be enough against the sturdily built Ocean City contingent and the powerful Sea Colony team.
The odds are not in RBP’s favor. Buckson sits atop a nearby shed and watches. It looks like his team might have to relinquish its title.
Suddenly, Ocean City is knocked out, and earlier than expected, adding only one point to its total. Sea Colony would last only long enough to get two points—just enough to force the first tie in the history of the event. Rehoboth still wins.
The joy of victory carries into the next morning. With the final standings posted outside RBP headquarters, the squad can boast another title.
As for Buckson, joy is replaced by another emotion: relief. He won’t have to worry about organizing another contest for almost a year.
“I got to sleep easy last night,” he says.

 

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April 2018

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Sponsor: Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
Telephone: 800.448.3883
Contact Name: Information and Tours
Website »

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Website »

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Website »

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Cost: FREE

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Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

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Telephone: 302-656-6466
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Website »

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Sponsor: Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
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Sponsor: UUFN
Telephone: 302.368.2984
Contact Name: Richard Field
Website »

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East Coast Garden Center presents: The Spring Festival!  We love celebrating the Spring season, and we invite you to join us! The weather warms, plants break dormancy, and Sussex County becomes...

Cost: free

Where:
East Coast Garden Center
30366 Cordrey Rd.
Millsboro, DE  19966
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Sponsor: Cordrey Companies
Telephone: (302)945-3489
Contact Name: Christine Justice
Website »

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Try practicing yoga in a beautiful garden setting, strengthening your body and spirit. Our yoga class is open to all levels. We will practice slow, easy motions to get into the rhythm of nature....

Cost: $10

Where:
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
5105 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Sponsor: Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
Telephone: 800-448-3883
Contact Name: Information and Tours
Website »

More information

Rosemary Castiglioni – Still lifes and interiors painted with a subtle palette; Jim Gears – Vibrant, impressionistic landscapes in oil applied with a palette knife; Richard Hoff – Detailed...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
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Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

THE UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE ALUMNI INVITATIONAL A Group Exhibition March 31 - April 26, 2018 OPENING RECEPTION: Friday, April 6, 2018, 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop, Artist talk at 7:30 PM The...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

THE UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE LYNN HERRICK SHARP AWARD EXHIBITION A Group Exhibition March 31 - April 26, 2018 OPENING RECEPTION: Friday, April 6, 2018, 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop The Delaware...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

TRANSIT by Maryanne Pollock January 27 - April 26, 2018Opening Reception: Friday, February 2, 2018 | 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop On Art:  Wednesday, February 21, 2018 | 5:25 - 6 PM Maryanne...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

THE UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE LYNN HERRICK SHARP AWARD EXHIBITION A Group Exhibition March 31 - April 26, 2018 OPENING RECEPTION: Friday, April 6, 2018, 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop The Delaware...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

This community-curated exhibition brings together three painters—Alan Soffer, Brian Dickerson, and Moe Brooker—who are attuned to harmonies and contrasts in abstract forms. Each artist...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
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Website »

More information

A needle's eye in a pond, a Greek temple in the garden, an Ottoman tent sitting on a hill—these are just a few of the inspirations for our upcoming, first-ever outdoor exhibition Follies:...

Cost: Included with general admission ($5-20)

Where:
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
5105 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Sponsor: Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
Telephone: 800.448.3883
Contact Name: Information and Tours
Website »

More information

GUARDIANS OF THE IMAGE MAKER Group Exhibition & Programs Commemorating The 1968 Riots April 6 - June 29, 2018 Opening reception: Friday, April 6, 2018                      5 - 9 PM...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

THE FIGURE: THE INDICATIVE AND THE ALLUSIVE Group Exhibition  April 1 - August 26, 2018 Opening Reception: Friday, April 6, 2018 | 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop with Panel Discussion: 6 - 7 PM...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

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The DCAD@20 Art Party will take place in DCAD’s Market Street galleries and on Sixth Street between those two indoor spaces. It will raise funds to support general operations and scholarships at...

Cost: $50

Where:
Delaware College of Art and Design
600 N. Market St.
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Sponsor: Delaware College of Art and Design
Telephone: 302-622-8000
Contact Name: Renee T. Garnick
Website »

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7:30 p.m. Curator Talk | 8:00 p.m. Pyxis Inspired by the exhibition Eye on Nature: Andrew Wyeth and John Ruskin, Pyxis Piano Quartet will perform a chamber concert in the Museum’s magnificent...

Cost: $30 Members, $50 Non-Members

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
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Website »

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East Coast Garden Center presents: The Spring Festival!  We love celebrating the Spring season, and we invite you to join us! The weather warms, plants break dormancy, and Sussex County becomes...

Cost: free

Where:
East Coast Garden Center
30366 Cordrey Rd.
Millsboro, DE  19966
View map »


Sponsor: Cordrey Companies
Telephone: (302)945-3489
Contact Name: Christine Justice
Website »

More information

Rosemary Castiglioni – Still lifes and interiors painted with a subtle palette; Jim Gears – Vibrant, impressionistic landscapes in oil applied with a palette knife; Richard Hoff – Detailed...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

THE UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE LYNN HERRICK SHARP AWARD EXHIBITION A Group Exhibition March 31 - April 26, 2018 OPENING RECEPTION: Friday, April 6, 2018, 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop The Delaware...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

THE UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE LYNN HERRICK SHARP AWARD EXHIBITION A Group Exhibition March 31 - April 26, 2018 OPENING RECEPTION: Friday, April 6, 2018, 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop The Delaware...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

THE FIGURE: THE INDICATIVE AND THE ALLUSIVE Group Exhibition  April 1 - August 26, 2018 Opening Reception: Friday, April 6, 2018 | 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop with Panel Discussion: 6 - 7 PM...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

GUARDIANS OF THE IMAGE MAKER Group Exhibition & Programs Commemorating The 1968 Riots April 6 - June 29, 2018 Opening reception: Friday, April 6, 2018                      5 - 9 PM...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

THE UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE ALUMNI INVITATIONAL A Group Exhibition March 31 - April 26, 2018 OPENING RECEPTION: Friday, April 6, 2018, 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop, Artist talk at 7:30 PM The...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

TRANSIT by Maryanne Pollock January 27 - April 26, 2018Opening Reception: Friday, February 2, 2018 | 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop On Art:  Wednesday, February 21, 2018 | 5:25 - 6 PM Maryanne...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

This community-curated exhibition brings together three painters—Alan Soffer, Brian Dickerson, and Moe Brooker—who are attuned to harmonies and contrasts in abstract forms. Each artist...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

A needle's eye in a pond, a Greek temple in the garden, an Ottoman tent sitting on a hill—these are just a few of the inspirations for our upcoming, first-ever outdoor exhibition Follies:...

Cost: Included with general admission ($5-20)

Where:
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
5105 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Sponsor: Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
Telephone: 800.448.3883
Contact Name: Information and Tours
Website »

More information

Glory of Stories introduces young visitors to art and the Museum through a story reading followed by an interactive tour of relevant works of art and a studio art project. This program encourages...

Cost: Free to Members, $5 per child and one adult free for Non-Members

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
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Mix, Relax, Explore: Live Music and Winterthur Beer Garden Winterthur After Hours on select Friday evenings presents families and adults with an evening opportunity to explore the Galleries and...

Cost: $10 per Member. $15 per nonmember. $5 students. 13 and under are free.

Where:
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
5105 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Sponsor: Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
Telephone: 800-448-3883
Contact Name: Information and Tours
Website »

More information

Friday, April 20, 7:00 p.m. Loudis Recital Hall   The U.S. Army Blues, part of the United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own,” is the premier jazz ensemble of the United States Army. After...

Cost: Free

Where:
Loudis Recital Hall
110 Orchard Rd
Newark, DE  19716
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Sponsor: University of Delaware Department of Music
Telephone: 130-283-12578
Contact Name: Megan Everhart
Website »

More information

Meeting every Friday, Bayhealth Kent General Hospital, 640 s. State Street, Dover, 7:30 pm., Private Dining Room #3 in the basement. For those who have, or think they may have a gambling problem....

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Bayhealth Kent General Hospital
640 S. State Street
Private Dining Room #3
Dover, DE  19901
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Telephone: 800-855-2CALLGA
Website »

More information

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Buddy Guy will perform his Chicago blues at the SugarHouse Casino Event Center on Friday, April 20, at 9 p.m. Guy is one of the most important blues singers and...

Cost: $49-$69

Where:
SugarHouse Casino
1001 N. Delaware Ave
Philadelphia, DE  19125
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More information

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East Coast Garden Center presents: The Spring Festival!  We love celebrating the Spring season, and we invite you to join us! The weather warms, plants break dormancy, and Sussex County becomes...

Cost: free

Where:
East Coast Garden Center
30366 Cordrey Rd.
Millsboro, DE  19966
View map »


Sponsor: Cordrey Companies
Telephone: (302)945-3489
Contact Name: Christine Justice
Website »

More information

Rosemary Castiglioni – Still lifes and interiors painted with a subtle palette; Jim Gears – Vibrant, impressionistic landscapes in oil applied with a palette knife; Richard Hoff – Detailed...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Join us again this spring and summer for yoga in the beautiful Copeland Sculpture Garden. Beginners, casual attendees, and families are welcome. Bring your own mat or borrow one of ours!...

Cost: Free, $10 suggested donation

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

THE UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE LYNN HERRICK SHARP AWARD EXHIBITION A Group Exhibition March 31 - April 26, 2018 OPENING RECEPTION: Friday, April 6, 2018, 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop The Delaware...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

THE UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE LYNN HERRICK SHARP AWARD EXHIBITION A Group Exhibition March 31 - April 26, 2018 OPENING RECEPTION: Friday, April 6, 2018, 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop The Delaware...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

THE FIGURE: THE INDICATIVE AND THE ALLUSIVE Group Exhibition  April 1 - August 26, 2018 Opening Reception: Friday, April 6, 2018 | 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop with Panel Discussion: 6 - 7 PM...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

THE UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE ALUMNI INVITATIONAL A Group Exhibition March 31 - April 26, 2018 OPENING RECEPTION: Friday, April 6, 2018, 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop, Artist talk at 7:30 PM The...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

This community-curated exhibition brings together three painters—Alan Soffer, Brian Dickerson, and Moe Brooker—who are attuned to harmonies and contrasts in abstract forms. Each artist...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

The DELPEX 2018 Postage Stamp Show features stamp exhibits, 20 stamp dealers, a bid board auction, and free stamps for kids.  Come and meet others who share your interest in stamp collecting. 

Cost: $0

Where:
Nur Shrine Center
198 S Dupont Hwy (Rtes. 13 & 40)
New Castle, DE  19720
View map »


Sponsor: Brandywine Valley Stamp Club
Telephone: 130-232-22719
Contact Name: Bill Clark
Website »

More information

A needle's eye in a pond, a Greek temple in the garden, an Ottoman tent sitting on a hill—these are just a few of the inspirations for our upcoming, first-ever outdoor exhibition Follies:...

Cost: Included with general admission ($5-20)

Where:
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
5105 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Sponsor: Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
Telephone: 800.448.3883
Contact Name: Information and Tours
Website »

More information

GUARDIANS OF THE IMAGE MAKER Group Exhibition & Programs Commemorating The 1968 Riots April 6 - June 29, 2018 Opening reception: Friday, April 6, 2018                      5 - 9 PM...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

TRANSIT by Maryanne Pollock January 27 - April 26, 2018Opening Reception: Friday, February 2, 2018 | 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop On Art:  Wednesday, February 21, 2018 | 5:25 - 6 PM Maryanne...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

18-HOLE INDOOR MINI GOLF Skyline Church is committed to building community in the Pike Creek area. We have created a unique event that will build relationships with community members, businesses,...

Cost: $7 | $10 | $125

Where:
Skyline United Methodist Church
3100 Skyline Drive
Wilmington, DE  19808
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Sponsor: Skyline United Methodist Church
Telephone: 302-737-9069
Website »

More information

Saturday, April 21, 12:30 p.m. Gore Recital Hall   Clarinetist Jeremy W. Reynolds joined the faculty of the University of Denver Lamont School of Music after performing as principal clarinetist...

Cost: $15 adults; $10 UD faculty/staff/alumni & seniors; $5 students

Where:
Gore Recital Hall
110 Orchard Rd
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: University of Delaware Department of Music
Telephone: 130-283-12578
Contact Name: Megan Everhart
Website »

More information

The Newark Symphony Chamber Series presents ensembles featuring NSO members; & will be joined by UD Singin' Hens.    For information, call (302) 369-3466 or email: busmgr@newarksymphony.org....

Cost: $0 - $20

Where:
Newark United Methodist Church
69 E. Main St.
Newark, DE  19711
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Sponsor: Newark Symphony Orchestra
Telephone: (302) 369-3466
Contact Name: Business Manager
Website »

More information

The next installment in our Inaugural Season of Concerts @ Covenant. Join us as Organist and Musicologist Chad Fothergill, University Fellow at the Esther Boyer College of Music at Temple...

Cost: $15

Where:
The Presbyterian Church of the Covenant
503 Duncan Road
Wilmington, DE  19809
View map »


Sponsor: Concerts @ Covenant Series
Telephone: 302-743-1201
Contact Name: Ryan Pryslak
Website »

More information

Guest Artist Recital Saturday, April 21, 8:00 p.m. Gore Recital Hall   American classical guitarist, Xavier Jara (1993), is the 1st prize winner of the 2016 GFA International Concert Artist...

Cost: $15 adults; $10 UD faculty/staff/alumni & seniors; $5 students

Where:
Gore Recital Hall
110 Orchard Rd
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: University of Delaware Department of Music
Telephone: 130-283-12578
Contact Name: Megan Everhart
Website »

More information

It's time for a night of music, prizes, and strikes! Join the ladies of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., Epsilon Rho Zeta Chapter for their Bowling Extravaganza. On April 21st starting at 9pm, meet us...

Cost: $25 per ticket; $120 per teams of 6

Where:
Pleasant Hill Lanes
1001 W Newport Pike
Wilmington, DE  19804
View map »


Sponsor: Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Epsilon Rho Zeta Chapter
Telephone: 302-715-1920
Contact Name: Michelle Mack-Williams
Website »

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